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Dec 4, 2013 2:30pm PST
meeting paul the hermit in his forest retreat. for this scene of saint anthony's torment and trial in the wilderness, the artist brings back all the irrational-- the images of monsters he saw in medieval and 15th-century art. he gives them an amazing quality of reality, a sense of immediacy. half human, a fearfully diseased demon clutches his prayer book in a bag. an inscription in the corner could apply to him as well as to the patients of saint anthony's hospital-- "where are you, good jesus? where are you? why haven't you come to heal my wounds?" new classical idealism from renaissance italy ended the spontaneous realism and imagination of grunewald's art. two new views of christianity also finished the free inquiry found in his painting. both protestantism and catholicism had their own rigorous ideas of just how religious subjects ought to be shown, and these rather narrow concepts really ended the wild fantasies, the quality of individuality, which is so extraordinarily powerful in the monument that we have just seen. five years after grunewald painted the isenheim altarpiece,
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